Harvard's History and Literature Department has added a refinement to the tutorial system that deserves the notice of the rest of the college. The Seniors in the Department who are writing theses meet together once a month in groups of about six, with their tutors and perhaps one or two other men in the Department, to discuss the "work in progress." The students for each group are chosen with a view to assembling men who are working on more or less related subjects, perhaps on the same country, or in the same historical period. The meetings are confined to the formative stages of the paper, when the student has not started to write and is still organizing his material and ideas.
This is not a substitute for meeting with the tutor individually, but a valuable supplement. Besides giving the student the benefit of criticism from many different viewpoints, it shows him more of what the Department is doing as a whole and acquaints him with problems common to all theses. Its possibilities are much greater than those of contact between student and tutor alone. If there are any maladjustments in the relationship between tutor and student, they may be magnified if they are shut away from others who are working along the same lines.
Other Departments, especially larger ones with more men writing theses, should not find it hard to make up such groups and try this system. From the time a student gets his first inkling of his subject, to the moment when he puts pen to paper for the first draft, this wider contact with like-minded men can do a lot to build a stronger foundation for the thesis, the work that represents the culmination of the tutorial system.